Leo Varadkar on Friday was elected as
the leader of Fine Gael, the largest party in Ireland's ruling
coalition, positioning him to become the nation's first openly gay
taoiseach, or prime minister.
“I want to thank everyone who engaged
in this extraordinary, open democratic process,” Varadkar said in
his acceptance speech. “For me, it's just the start of a more
democratic and more engaged Fine Gael and we will be stronger for
Varadkar, the son of an immigrant
Indian father and Irish mother, will be Ireland's first openly gay
and ethnic minority prime minister, and the youngest at 38.
Parliament will vote later this month on a replacement for outgoing
Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
LGBT rights activists cheered
“Today is a historic one for the
LGBTQ community in Ireland,” said Belong to Youth Services, which
serves LGBT youth, in a Facebook post. “We welcome Ireland's first
gay presumptive taoiseach … here's to the next generation!”
Varadkar came out gay two years ago as
Ireland debated a nationwide referendum on whether to extend marriage
rights to gay and lesbian couples. Sixty-two percent of voters
approved the measure.
Belgium and Iceland have had openly gay
heads of state, while Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in 2015
first European Union leader to marry a person of the same sex while